The Daily Show Mocks Atheist Group’s Challenge of Restaurant Owner’s Prayer Discount December 10, 2014

The Daily Show Mocks Atheist Group’s Challenge of Restaurant Owner’s Prayer Discount

***Update***: FFRF released a statement on the episode:

Dan was interviewed by an in-your-face host for almost two hours. The spin on the segment, aired last night, was not just unsympathetic, but this time, frankly, not very funny. The punchline to Dan was: “You’re a dick.”

Dan’s point, made repeatedly during the interview, but not used, was: “If you think the Civil Rights Act is petty, then our complaint was petty.”

We’re working to uphold essential principles of law that protect us all. Although constitutional law is not undertaken to gain social acceptance, history shows that standing up for one’s rights — as demonstrated by the civil rights and gay rights movements — is actually the surest path toward gaining social acceptance.

In case you missed it, last night’s episode of The Daily Show featured a segment on a Freedom From Religion Foundation-inspired controversy. FFRF President Dan Barker argued against a prayer discount offered by the owner of Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

A few thoughts on the segment:

I was fully expecting the show to be on the side of the business owner. They’ve always been against the kind of activism practiced by church/state separation groups like FFRF. As I wrote yesterday, they also used FFRF as the butt of the joke back in 2010.

I was surprised by the amount of air time they gave to Dan. When they asked him a question, he was usually able to get out a sensible answer before they cut him off via editing. Usually.

Okay, about the genocide thing… it brought back memories of Richard Dawkins saying “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse.” It’s not that Barker was necessarily “wrong”… it’s just that the analogy distracted from the point he was trying to make. If I were being generous, I could say Dawkins’ tweet was a spur-of-the-moment thought. Barker, on the other hand, knew he would have to explain his opposition to the discount and why FFRF goes after seemingly-insignificant violations like this one. He could’ve found a better example. (Same with the line, “Under the law, Selma and a 15% discount are the same thing.” I know what you’re trying to say… but still.)

Correspondent Jordan Klepper (who said in the segment that he was also an atheist) jumped on him for saying that and mined it for all the comedy he could. And it was just a softball for restaurant owner Mary Haglund, who came off looking like a saint after facing the wrath of the evil atheists. Klepper also got a cheap laugh by asking her to take a moment of silence if she thought atheists were being “petty assholes” about all this, knowing she wasn’t going to say it out loud. I have to say: It was effective.

The segment didn’t make atheists look good, and it wasn’t entirely the result of editing. Barker gave the writers the red meat they wanted. He shouldn’t have.

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